Why Am I Underweight? | Underweight Health Risks
“I Eat Lots – Why Am I Underweight??”
You hear a whole lot about people trying to lose weight, and wondering why they are so overweight, even when they are trying very hard. But how often do you hear somebody asking, “Why am I underweight?”, or, “Are there underweight health risks I should be concerned about?”
It almost sounds weird…
Underweight People Need Help Too! Stop Ignoring Us!
Books about obesity. TV talk shows about obesity. New diets to lose weight. Exercise programs to carve off the pounds. Well, I say what about the people who have the opposite problem and are too thin? Must be nice, you may say, but to them the problem is every bit as real, as worrisome, and as difficult to change.
Underweight Health Risks
Causes of this malady can be a metabolism that is like a race car and burns calories faster than you can shove them in. Or there are people, believe it or not, who have absolutely no interest in food and eat to live rather than live to eat. In order to gain weight you must take in more calories than your body burns.
This can be a real health concern. For instance when your body does not receive enough food (fuel) it runs out of gas, leaving you sputtering along feeling fatigued, irritable, and with little or no concentration. This can lead to vitamin, mineral, and calcium deficiencies resulting in severe bone loss or osteoporosis. Other underweight health risks include infections, fertility problems, and even early death.
Other things can be the cause of inadequate weight as well:
– eating disorders such as anorexia
– celiac disease
– infections such as parasites, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS
Suggestions for Healthy Weight Gain:
Here we come with a gas station full of ways to gain weight the healthy way:
First a precaution… I said “the healthy way.” Gorging yourself on donuts, sugary drinks, cookies, pies, and candy will surely pack on the pounds but will also ruin your health. To gain in a beneficial way you need to gain a balanced amount of muscle mass and subcutaneous fat, NOT unhealthy belly fat. It is very important to achieve healthy weight gain by eating healthy foods and living a healthy lifestyle.
- eat more frequently rather than your three squares per day.
- eat foods such as whole grain breads, pastas, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, nuts and seeds, and lean meats.
- don’t just concentrate on caloric heavy foods during meals.
- snack, snack, and snack and make ‘em caloric. PB and J sandwiches, nuts, cheese, avocados, dried fruits, and more. Avocados are especially loaded with healthy fats as well as being high in vitamins and minerals. There are so many ways to use this food but they are especially delicious in sandwiches and omelets.
- eat plenty of high carb and high fat foods at each meal. Some examples include potatoes, quinoa, corn, squash and sweet potatoes, root vegetables, and beans. For more bang for your buck try adding sour cream to potatoes, avocado or olive oil to roast vegetables, olives as a topping, and hummus to crackers or bread.
- salmon and oily fish provide a whopping amount of protein and healthy fats to your diet. Eat them steamed, sautéed, grilled, or poached. Or try canned salmon. It can be served many ways and most of it is wild rather than farmed.
Allow Yourself a Treat Occasionally
But be careful. Pie and ice cream once in awhile is ok but don’t make a habit of it. Instead try bran muffins (preferably homemade), yogurt, and good, healthy granola bars (also preferably homemade)
More Food Tips
- rice is not only a good carb source for weight gain but it is also inexpensive. For variety and flavor add parmesan and butter, broccoli and cheese, scrambled eggs, or sauces such as curry, pesto, or alfredo. Or how about creamy, delicious rice pudding?
- red meat is one of the best muscle building foods. It is a natural source of creatine, which is the world’s best muscle building supplement.
- dried fruits provide a high caloric snack and are nutritious, full of fiber, and high in antioxidants.
- healthy cereals are super good for weight gain but make sure to read the labels and avoid ones with a high sugar content. Try oatmeal, granola, multigrains, bran, and Ezekiel brand and top with whole milk, nuts, dried fruit, or chia seeds.
- high quality dark chocolate (that contains at least 70% cacao) helps to regulate stress hormones and blood sugar levels as well as having a very high calorie density. Not only is it delicious straight up, but imagine a fragrant, steaming cup of hot chocolate…
Protein Is Number One
Some good advice for making sure you eat enough at mealtime. Eat your protein and other calorie rich foods first. Then eat the vegetables if you still have room.
Make protein your main focus, foodwise. This is the single most important nutrient for gaining weight since muscle is made of protein. Examples of high protein foods include meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, and nuts. Protein supplements such as whey powder are a good addition.
Contrary to past advice, eggs are super muscle building little gems. Most of the beneficial nutrients are found in the yolks (again contrary to outdated beliefs), and you can safely eat up to three eggs per day in casseroles, for breakfast, in sandwiches, and in baked products. Omelets are one of my very favorites and so versatile. Add veggies like peppers and onions, cheese, and chopped meat. For a real caloric meal add sour cream and avocado.
If you are able to eat dairy, whole fat Greek yogurt has a well balanced mix of protein, carbs, and fat which is delicious in smoothies, parfaits, or mixed with fruit or berries.
Exercise regularly. This is an absolute must. Strength training builds up your muscles and stimulates your appetite.
Supplements for Weight Gain
There are many good supplements for weight gain, which help by increasing your appetite. For example a lack of zinc, thiamine, fish oil, and echinacea can cause loss of appetite so including them in your diet will be of help.
As mentioned previously creatine is a good one. It occurs naturally in your body, providing energy for your muscles and tissues. Taking it as a supplement bumps up its power considerably. It also increases water content in your muscle cells, producing signals for muscle growth.
Beta-Alanine is an amino acid that increases exercise performance.
Branched chain amino acids are found in most protein sources such as meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, and fish. They are critically important for muscle growth but supplements should only be taken if it is difficult for you to get enough protein in your diet.
So, in conclusion, if you have tried everything you can think of and are still wondering, “Why am I underweight?”, you know that gaining weight can be difficult. But it is not impossible, and consistency is the key to long term success.
Your body has a setpoint of weight where it just settles in and feels comfortable. Unfortunately if you yourself are not comfortable with that weight and try to change it, that stubborn body resists the changes by regulating your hunger levels and metabolic rate.
To be victorious in this battle you will need to force yourself to eat, even if you feel full. Be patient as this can take some time, so be consistent and stick with it. You will succeed in the end game.